Health official says making every child wear a mask will have its challenges



Kids will be going back to school in late August.

At Belmont County’s weekly COVID 19 briefing, the deputy health commissioner was cautiously optimistic about the county’s numbers.

The total only went up by one new case since the day before.

Rob Sproul said that in a statewide look at positive cases based on population, Belmont County is third from the lowest, which is good.

But the next big challenge involves the Ohio governor’s ruling that every child from kindergarten through 12th grade must wear a mask in school.

Sproul told county commissioners he’s talking with school nurses and cafeteria personnel about methods for a safe start-up.

He said some back to school issues–such as distancing in bleachers at athletic events–still are unknown.

But one thing is known: every student must wear a mask.

“I think it’s going to be tough for the teachers, to be honest, especially with the younger kids,” Sproul said. “They’re going to be fiddling with it. They won’t be used to wearing it. So I think they’re going to have a tough task to wrangle the kids to keep the mask on.”

He suggests that parents get masks with their child’s favorite super hero or team logo.

And that they practice wearing them at home.

“The whole concept of something being over their face for hours is going to be new to them,” he noted. “And understandably, it’s going to be something they’ll want to mess with.”

He said FEMA is reportedly going to provide masks to every school.

Some schools have already gotten their own, with the school logo.

But it all hinges on the numbers.

Will Belmont County be in the green zone, and be able to hold classes in school five days a week?

Sproul says if the curve stays as it is now, yes.

“But if you remember the last time we had no cases for a day or two, we then had a large influx of students coming back from a trip,” he said. “And a lot of people, right before the school year starts, like to go on vacation. It’s like the last hurrah. So we hope that doesn’t happen this time.”

Children exempted from the mask mandate include those with severe autism, those under the age of two and those with behavioral or psychological issues that would be worsened by the use of a face covering.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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